The US firm of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy charges Friday and will pay approximately $300 million in a plea deal to resolve a multi-year investigation into the US Justice Department’s diesel emissions fraud, Reuters reported, citing court documents. .
FCA US, now part of Stellantis, will pay approximately $300 million in criminal fines resulting from its efforts to circumvent emissions regulations for more than 100,000 older Ram pickup trucks and Jeep SUVs in its US range.
“FCA US was involved in a multi-year plan to mislead US regulators and customers,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite said, adding that the department will “hold responsible companies that want to put profits over candor, good corporate governance and timely remediation.”
U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds in Detroit has set the sentencing date on July 18. The settlement included a $203.6 million fine and a $96.1 million fine. The government noted that FCA previously paid US a $311 million civil fine and paid more than $183 million in compensation to more than 63,000 people as part of a class-action diesel lawsuit.
Reuters said FCA US would have a three-year probation period. The automaker must conduct an initial assessment of its Clean Air Act compliance and inspection and testing procedures, submit a report, and prepare at least two follow-up assessments and reports.
The Justice Department said FCA US has installed deceptive software features designed to avoid regulatory oversight and fraudulently help diesel vehicles meet required emissions standards. The department said the company has “deliberately calibrated its emissions control systems” to produce fewer emissions during federal testing procedures than under normal driving conditions.
The guilty plea represents the last major action US officials are expected to take against FCA over the issue of emissions fraud, Reuters noted.
Stellantis confirmed the settlement, saying in its 2021 financial disclosures that approximately EUR 266 million (US$301 million) had been accrued at the time in connection with the case.
The affected diesel powered vehicles cover the 2014 to 2016 model years.
Three FCA US employees have been charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and violate the Clean Air Act and are awaiting trial, the news agency said.
The plea deal comes five years after Volkswagen pleaded guilty to criminal charges to resolve its own emissions crisis that affected nearly 600,000 vehicles in a scandal that came to be known as “dieselgate”.